Design a Powerful Portfolio

views: 0

The strength of a designer’s portfolio can make all the difference in advancing his/her career. Designers must create a portfolio that visually showcases their talent in the best way possible. The portfolio must also be impressive, memorable and rise above the competition.

Start with inspiration which can come from anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps from a photograph, a book, a print, or from your imagination. The possibilities are endless. I once met a designer who was inspired by a doorknob at Versailles, and another who was inspired by frogs, and another who found inspiration in outer space. The possibilities are endless. Capture your ideas in a sketchbook for further development.

Tip: Don’t text while walking. Keep your head up or you may miss the vision of a lifetime. Same goes for the ear buds – sounds can be inspirational.

Create inspiration boards showing what inspired you for each group you design. The boards can be composed of images, found objects, fabrics, or a multitude of other inspirational things or thoughts. These boards will the beginning of the story that follows. Each story should be unique and special.

Tip: Design groups for each season. (Although I’m not sure what swimwear designers do in the winter)

Put together color stories and collect fabric swatches for each of your groups. Consider the important details of the category you design. For instance, sweater designers should include yarns, accessory designers may want to show hardware, evening wear designers could include beading and embroidery. Of course you can mix it up if you want – include beads in sweater presentations, or hardware in evening wear etc. There are no hard rules.

Tip: Include trims in your portfolio. Sometimes a fabulous button can take a plain shirt to fabulous.

Then sketch, sketch, sketch. And then sketch some more. Then edit, edit, edit until your are satisfied with the final designs. Then start putting together your final portfolio.

What is important to include: inspiration boards, fabrics, trims, details, flats (both computer and hand drawn to show your range of ability). Ideally, include full color illustrations. But if you are not a good illustrator (and many of us are not), get creative. I met a designer once who sketched the clothes on dress forms and another who sketched everything on hangers.

Final tip: Be passionate, be creative, have fun and design from your heart. It will show in your portfolio.


Michi Raab
Fashion Portfolio and Resume Consultant
Michi Raab coaches designers to rise above the competition

website:  email:


Michi Raab is a professional fashion portfolio and resume consultant. She has guided fashion designers in creating and improving their portfolios and resumes to increase their success in job searches. She works with all levels of designers from seasoned professionals to entry level. Consulting sessions include examples of successful portfolios and resumes.

After graduating from The Fashion Institute of Technology, Michi worked as a successful designer for 20 years before spending the next 17 years as a fashion design recruiter. For the last 7 years she worked at Ralph Lauren as the company’s primary design recruiter. Throughout her career in the fashion industry, she has reviewed and critiqued hundreds of fashion designers portfolios –  a critical component of success in a highly competitive industry.

Her expertise covers all apparel markets: men’s, women’s and children’s, and she works with designers in a multitude of specialties: outerwear, sweaters, business and casual sportswear, active and performance sportswear, loungewear, dresses, and evening wear.

Michi’s comprehensive design education and industry experience in sketching, clothing construction, patternmaking and draping ensures technical accuracy in designer’s portfolios.

Michi also brings her extensive fine arts background to counseling on color, composition, mood and inspiration boards, portfolio layout and over-all visual presentation.
For more information go to

Rates available upon request